Friends

Friends

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Thoughts and insights from Jubilee Church Wirral

Friends

By Helen O’Brien, Life Group leader, Jubilee Church Wirral

Matthew Perry (second left), who played Chandler Bing in 90s sitcom Friends, died recently.

As I’m sure that most of you are aware, Matthew Perry, who played Chandler Bing in 90s sitcom Friends, died recently.

There has been much grief expressed on social media.

This got me thinking about friendship. I have been carried by my friends recently and I wasn’t sure I could write about this but here goes.

Friendship is important to all humans. There are many stories in the Bible of friendships. David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1-3), Ruth and Naomi (Ruth 1:16-17), Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Daniel 2:49), to name but a few. 

How can you get good friends?

1. Pray. 

Have you ever met someone and thought, “oh I like this person, I think we could be friends,” but a few weeks later they say something that makes you look at them in a different way and you pull back. They might be a cat person but you are a dog person. You might vote Green Party and they don’t vote. On the surface it’s relatively trivial but it becomes a barrier to friendship. 

The Bible advises caution when choosing friends. Proverbs 12:26 says “The righteous choose their friends carefully…” but is something so minor worth missing out on what might become a deep friendship? Before you pull away, pray. Ask God for wisdom about who to befriend. 

2. Be intentional.

There was a bunch of older mums at Kez and Mikey’s primary school. We agreed we would stay friends regardless of whether our kids were friends or not. 

3. Invest your time and energy.

Friends are precious things and friendships require tending like gardens. The more we tend a garden the more beautiful it becomes, the same is true of friendships.

4. Don’t require perfection.

Jesus surrounded himself with 12 close friends, but his best friends were two argumentative sisters and their brother. Perfect friends don’t exist

5. Be prepared to be vulnerable.

Great friends look after you when you can’t look after yourself. This last month my friends have held me in prayer, literally held me while I sobbed, fed me meals when cooking was the last thing I could do, fed me chocolate biscuits, taken me out and blessed me, not pried, just prayed. They have prayed when I couldn’t.

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend Proverbs 27:17

One friend, when she saw me in McDonald’s car park, gave me the Bible verses 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 16

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 

Other fast food restaurants are available, but you won’t get words of comfort like that from anywhere other than a Godly friend quoting the Bible.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. Proverbs 17:17

Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty. Job 6:14

I hope that soon, when I am stronger I can pay my friends back, but do you know what, I bet each and every one of them will say I don’t owe them anything, because that’s what friends do. 

Don’t get me wrong, Jesus is a great friend, my best friend.  He will never leave us or forsake us 

Deuteronomy 31:6; 31:8 (NIV): The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Hebrews 13:5:  Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

But when you need a tissue and a hug, or someone to tell you your hair is a mess and your feet smell, a here-and-now person is a blessing from God. 

I thank God for all of my friends and pray that you will be blessed with good Godly friends too.

Andrew Greenhalgh and Julie Greenhalgh Upton Life Group leaders Jubilee Church Wirral

Helen O’Brien with her husband Mick

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Psalms

Psalms

Blogs
Thoughts and insights from Jubilee Church Wirral

Psalms

By Helen O’Brien, Life Group leader, Jubilee Church Wirral

As a child my favourite book of the Bible was Proverbs.

I used to quote chapter 27 verse 14 all the time: You might as well curse your friends as wake them up early in the morning with a loud greeting. (Good News Bible). I never was a morning person.

Or chapter 28 verse 1: The wicked run when no one is chasing them, but an honest person is as brave as a lion. (Good News Bible). That was my excuse for not taking part in cross country running.

These verses still make me chuckle and I may still quote them on Sunday morning when one or other of Mick’s customers rings at 8:15 to check he has remembered to order the fence panels or when Ian reminds me I have to run 5k with him on Monday.

However, I would say that now my favourite book of the Bible is actually Psalms. Having some life experience behind me I find the amazing collection of prayers very helpful.

Mick used to use the youth Bible all the time. He liked the section in the front that said “Feeling sad? Read XYZ. Feeling lonely? Read ABC”.

Psalms is a bit like that. The morning devotional app that Mick and I use every day is called Lectio 365. It is from the 24/7 prayer people and it encourages us to P.R.A.Y:

‘P’: PAUSING to be still.
‘R’: REJOICING with a Psalm and REFLECTING on God’s Word.
‘A’: ASKING God to help us and others
‘Y’: YIELDING to His will in our lives, come what may.

As part of the “rejoice” section the phrase “I choose to rejoice in God’s goodness today, joining with the ancient praise of all God’s people in the words of Psalm 9…” was used on Saturday but the attribute of God changes every day.

On Friday, it was God’s rescue (Psalm 35), on Thursday it was God’s forgiveness (Psalm 103).

We may not always feel like rejoicing though and there are Psalms for that.
For example, Psalm 31:9-13

Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in trouble;
my eyes are tired from so much crying; I am completely worn out.
I am exhausted by sorrow,
and weeping has shortened my life.
I am weak from all my troubles; even my bones are wasting away.
All my enemies, and especially my neighbours,  treat me with contempt.
Those who know me are afraid of me;  when they see me in the street, they run away.
Everyone has forgotten me, as though I were dead; I am like something thrown away.
I hear many enemies whispering; terror is all around me.
They are making plans against me, plotting to kill me.

I love the rawness of this Psalm. The honesty of its author. It is ok to be real with God.

The variety of emotions and observations, the beautiful words of worship and anguish mean so much to me, all the more so because Jesus himself will have known these Psalms and used them in worship. If it was good enough for Him, it’s good enough for me.

On our Christian holiday last year we started the day by praising God reading or listening to a Psalm. I enjoyed this version of Psalm 92 and I would therefore like to encourage you to explore Psalms if you aren’t familiar with them and include in the comments your favourite one.

Andrew Greenhalgh and Julie Greenhalgh Upton Life Group leaders Jubilee Church Wirral

Helen O’Brien with her husband Mick

Comments – let us know what you think

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Christmas Preparations

Christmas Preparations

Christmas Preparations

By Helen O’Brien, Life Group leader, Jubilee Church Wirral

I hope you can enjoy Christmas however/wherever/whatever you do. If you struggle please reach out. 

There are so many different approaches to the big event and too much guilt if you feel everyone is doing it bette or bigger than you.

Maybe you have had your tree up since the 25th of November (or earlier), or you may follow the German tradition of decorating the tree on Christmas Eve.

We go away every Christmas so often only do the bare minimum in terms of decoration. At school the tree goes up on December 1st, and many hours are spent untangling and PAT testing miles of fairy lights.

Harry is my Christmas elf. He wraps all the presents I have bought while I am at work. The fun part is working out which one is which when I get home.

On Christmas afternoon we often end up swopping unwrapped gifts as mum is not “gluten-free” and my sister does not like Lynx Africa. That is assuming we can unwrap them, Harry prides himself in using no less than a whole roll of tape for each gift!

Harry went to a day centre last year as he is on his own over Christmas and Mick went to Arlo and Geri’s because we didn’t think we could leave Otis (our dog) with anyone.

This year after a few successful trial runs Ian Hamilton is hosting Otis, and Mick will join the Stelfox clan in Belfast, for a traditional busy, food-filled celebration of Jesus and family, God willing.

Becca Johnson hosts the O’Brien/Harry Christmas dinner, often in January. A lovely evening of great food, fun and gifts.

I am an honorary boy in the boys choir at school and we have the traditional nine readings and Carol service.

That’s when I start to really feel Christmassy. Knowing that half the school will hear the gospel is exciting. I am only gutted that since lockdown it is no longer the whole school.

Advent calendars also signify the start of the countdown. I have two reusable ones, one for Harry and one for me.

I buy Lindt chocolate balls in November to refill them and every year I lose them before the first of December.

Harry went out and bought his own Lindt calendar this year as he was sick of waiting for me to find the missing , presumed eaten, chocolates. (Other chocolate brands are available.)

Advent is a strange word. The Oxford dictionary defines it as follows:-

noun
1.
 The arrival of a notable person or thing.”the advent of television”
2. The first season of the Church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.

Our church does not follow the traditional church seasons but this year Dave bought us all a book of readings for advent – The Coming of the king, 25 readings for Advent, by  JC Ryle, the first bishop of Liverpool.

I am loving the daily discipline and the inspiring message looking past Christ’s first coming to His second.

In a week when the official census reported that less than half the population of this country is Christian is it good to look forward to a future when every knee will bow.

If you haven’t picked up your copy of the book there are a few left at the back of church. Praying you have a blessed Christmas.

Michael and Helen O'Brien Jubilee Church Wirral

Helen O’Brien with her husband Mick

Praying for our leaders

Praying for our leaders

Blogs
Thoughts and insights from Jubilee Church Wirral

Praying for our leaders

By Helen O’Brien, Life Group leader, Jubilee Church Wirral

While I was sitting watching TV thinking about what to write for my blog the BBC interrupted the broadcast to announce the death of her majesty Queen Elizabeth the second.

You might be reading this as someone who does not support the monarchy or as a subject of another monarch, or citizen of a different country but I want to talk about her as a leader, from a Biblical perspective.

Praying for our leaders is a Biblical requirement. Paul passes on this instruction when he writes to Timothy in 1 Timothy 2.

Instructions on worship: I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle – I am telling the truth, I am not lying – and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.

Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.

Our political leaders, regardless of what you personally think about them or their policies, need our prayers. The church of England prays for the monarch every day.

For those of you who have never experienced worship in either a Church of England or an Anglican church, I would like to quote a few lines from the Book of Common Prayer. This book is used to structure their services.

“O Lord our heavenly Father,

high and mighty, King of kings, Lord of lords, the only Ruler of princes,

who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth;

most heartily we beseech thee with thy favour

to behold our most gracious Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth;

and so replenish her with the grace of thy Holy Spirit,

that she may always incline to thy will, and walk in thy way:

endue her plenteously with heavenly gifts;

grant her in health and wealth long to live;

strengthen her that she may vanquish and overcome all her enemies;

and finally, after this life, she may attain everlasting joy and felicity;

This language may not be familiar to us but a rough translation is God please fill the Queen with the Holy Spirit”.

God’s plan was not for kings and queens to rule His people, rather judges to guide them.  In 1 Samuel 8 :11-17, we read how God warned the Israelites what Kings would be like when they first demanded one.

‘So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah.

They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.” But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. And the LORD told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots.

He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.

He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants.

He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants.

Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves.’

Many Kings and Queens through history did indeed inflict such hardships on their subjects but Queen Elizabeth II never did. The Israelites may have rejected God as King but Queen Elizabeth never did.

She was a devoted Christian and was prepared to talk about her faith publicly as she led this country for over 70 years.

I mistakenly thought she was the head of the Church of England but I was put right by Wikipedia. She was in reality the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. This title was chosen to make sure no one thought the monarch was claiming divinity or usurping Christ, who is the head of the Church.

Ironically the title Defender of the faith was added in 1521 by Pope Leo 10th in recognition of Henry VIII’s opposition to the protestant reformation. It was withdrawn of course when Henry set up the Church of England but Parliament reconferred it in the reign of Edward VI.

This title seemed to mean the most to her majesty and she addressed the Church of England national assembly in December 2021.

  

“In our richly diverse modern society, the well-being of the nation depends on the contribution of people of all faiths, and of none,” her statement said.

“But for people of faith, the last few years have been particularly hard, with unprecedented restrictions in accessing the comfort and reassurance of public worship.

“For many, it has been a time of anxiety, of grief, and of weariness. Yet the Gospel has brought hope, as it has done throughout the ages.”

In our sadness we should all pray for the royal family in theirs and continue to ask that God fills them with the holy spirit.

Michael and Helen O'Brien Jubilee Church Wirral

Helen O’Brien with her husband Michael

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Helen O’Brien – He who has ears

Helen O’Brien – He who has ears

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Helen O’Brien – He who has ears

Helen O’Brien of Jubilee Church Wirral on Mark 4:1-9: Being open to God, listening to what He has to say to us, asking questions and coming to church with the right heart.

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